Saturday, July 30, 2011

Frequent Questions: Perfumes, the Guide ~which book edition contains what?

People often pick up Perfumes, the Guide as a starter into getting more seriously involved on perfume. There are also those who are already into the aficion and check to see whether the snark or the praise corresponds with their own established views. For all practical purposes there are a few editions of the exact same entertaininh and informative book with minimal differences depending on when they came out which makes for some confusion, at least going by the questions appearing on perfume discussion boards. Let's see the various editions according to continent and chronological order of coming out.

First edition of Perfumes, the Guide (2008): Hardcover, blue Dawamesk/Coque d'Or bottle by Guerlain on the white book jacket.

Second edition of Perfumes, the Guide, also called Perfumes, the A-Z Guide: Paperback, contains the exact same content of the first edition, with added reviews that had previously appeared on the three Supplements that had been available through subscription at the authors' site (the first one of those was free for download) and an extention of the essays, with some updates on the "best of" lists at the end of the book.
There are two versions of the 2nd edition of Perfumes, the Guide: One for the US market, another for the European one, but they share the same content as described above.

the US 2nd edition of Perfumes, the Guide with many little bottles in colour on the cover

the European 2nd edition of Perfumes, the Guide, in black & white stripes on the cover

The above are NOT to be confused with the newest upcoming edition, reprising some material from the other book, called "The Little Book of Perfumes: the 100 Classics", which basically takes Luca and Tania on a hunt to re-smell the 100 classic fragrances they had reviewed to see (and wittily comment, of course) whether they stand up to closer scrutiny after the lapsed 3 years and perfumery changes since.


  1. Merlin10:06

    Yip, the books that ignited my obsession: only the ones I have are a) the hardcover with black and white striped colour and b) (bought some time later) the softcover, also with black and white stripes, but added reviews, responses to readership questions and a much easier index at the back with a listing of brands/houses and the frags under them, + page number of review.

  2. I have the e-book from Google books, and although it has the many little bottles cover, it does NOT have any additional reviews.

    It seems very hard to get this info about e-books, so buyer beware.

  3. Fiordiligi16:54

    I've just pre-ordered The Little Book of Perfumes (from amazon UK) thanks to this post! Thank you for helping me spend even more money. Love it xxx.

  4. Anonymous20:57

    Gee, I'd be so much more delighted if they did a book that covered the many new releases since their last book. I'm always looking up things only to find it's not included because it's come out in the last few years...I don't think I'd pay for this new book since the scope is so small (classics) and they've already reviewed them (really, I don't expect their reviews to be much different).

  5. Anonymous03:43

    I own the Guide, and did indeed use it as a primer for a while, as I was enjoying exploring and learning about perfumes. That said, it is not a perfect book by any means. While many of the reviews are witty, quite a few are just mean-spirited and petty, as though calculated to even some personal score. Some are simply careless and inaccurate-- basically, they took on the task of reviewing way too many perfumes, and the consequence is that a lot of gorgeous, subtle, rich perfumes get short shrift, if not maligned. Too bad for the smaller houses, who apparently did not take the trouble to court the royal couple with gifts of lab time and copious samples. These days, I take the Guide with a HUGE grain of salt. (i.e.--no more foolish blind buys of stuff like Tommy Girl or Lady Stetson--no more overlooking gorgeous perfumes like 06130 Lentisque) The only advice I take to heart is to rely on my own taste and preferences. I will take a look at the new book when I see it-- but likely won't buy. Mary

  6. Merlin09:59

    In 'the Guide's' defense I would say the reviews are not only witty but also very often evocative, and frequently catch the very essence of a scent: see for instance SL's La Myrrh and O.J's Woman. Sure, I would not rate many frags in the same way as it does (Tommy Girl!) But then art is necessarily subjective. Good art criticism, in my view, is crit that helps a person appreciate an artwork better - and what the Guide did for me is open up the world of perfumery so I had some way of approaching it in the first place.


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